A Setting on Titan

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I've got a new setting gestating and maybe some of you can hep me with it; it's set on Titan and more than one of you are quite good at figuring these kinds of things out.

The setting concept is only loosely based on reality, but nevertheless...

Kraken Mare is the largest sea on Titan, a surface sea of liquid hydrocarbons (perhaps?). I'm not sure if there's any oxygen on Titan - is there? Would a hydrocarbon sea be inflammable? Is there anything about a 'hydrocarbon sea' that makes it chemically interesting? Any implications for life?

Titan is tidally locked to Saturn, I believe. But does Kraken Mare face toward Saturn, or away from it? What would a day/season cycle look like from this location?

Any help from the Book Club's Space Aces would be much appreciated! :)

Comments

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    edited September 2

    Do you have my StarCluster - In The Beginning? There's some stuff about Titan there. I'll send it to you if you don't. In any case aerogel insulating material in suits is what allows living there. You don't need a pressure suit, just insulation from the cold. Houseboats on the hydrocarbon sea would be fun! You don't have any gasseous oxygen, so nothing's going to burn, but there is plenty of water ice, as the 'land' is water ice. Any residences would be on insulating platforms.

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    Some other thoughts:
    1. the surface gravity is not that much less than our moon (1.35 ms-2 as opposed to 1.6)
    2. the surface atmosphere pressure is about 1.5 times that of Earth at sea level
    3. the air pressure and density compared to the surface gravity is such that a person (in a suitable heat-suit, as per comments by @clash_bowley ) could strap on wings and fly.
    4. the relatively thick atmosphere does far more by way of protection from radiation than that on Mars, so (temperature aside) it's a comparatively safe place to live
    5. although I haven't read anything about free oxygen there, there's plenty of water ice, so getting an oxygen supply is almost trivial
    6. the liquid hydrocarbon seas are reckoned to be mostly ethane and methane... so no shortage of petrochemicals, should you need them. The methane should have broken down long ago so it is assumed that ther eis an internal mechanism for regenerating it
    7. Kraken Mare and a whole bunch of other lakes are near Titan's north pole - there's some splendid pics at https://www.space.com/12638-amazing-photos-titan-saturn-moon.html. I haven't yet tracked down anything which talks about whether these lakes look at Saturn or away

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    Energy will be a concern. You're under an opaque atmosphere far from the sun, so solar power is out. Burning hydrocarbon isn't a great source, as you need to expend energy to liberate the oxygen from water, only to burn it and turn it back into water.

    There could be nuclear power stations to provide the source energy, which is then used to crack water. You then carry around tanks of oxygen and capture fuel from the environment, the opposite of how it's done on Earth (carry fuel, capture oxygen).

    The combination of low gravity, high air pressure, and fuel in the oceans says "ekranoplan!" to me. Ground-effect aircraft skimming over the oceans, with a pipe into the sea sucking up fuel as it goes.

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    @NeilNjae said:
    Energy will be a concern. You're under an opaque atmosphere far from the sun, so solar power is out. Burning hydrocarbon isn't a great source, as you need to expend energy to liberate the oxygen from water, only to burn it and turn it back into water.

    There could be nuclear power stations to provide the source energy, which is then used to crack water. You then carry around tanks of oxygen and capture fuel from the environment, the opposite of how it's done on Earth (carry fuel, capture oxygen).

    The combination of low gravity, high air pressure, and fuel in the oceans says "ekranoplan!" to me. Ground-effect aircraft skimming over the oceans, with a pipe into the sea sucking up fuel as it goes.

    Geothermal maybe? Depending how much heat there is in the interior (probably generated by gravitational flexing from Saturn). Probable "titanothermal" would be a better word - I should probably register the trade name now and make a mint when people settle there...

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    Aha! @Apocryphal check out https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/resources/15422/titans-kraken-mare/

    "The Cassini spacecraft looks toward Saturn's largest moon, Titan, and spies the huge Kraken Mare in the moon's north... This view looks toward the Saturn-facing side of Titan... North on Titan is up and rotated 29 degrees to the left."

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    Wow - lots to think about. What is the ‘air’ made of?

    For this particular setting - which doesn’t need to be set on Titan, except that I fell in love with the name Kraken Mare - I was thinking more along the lines of a sword-and-planet vibe. The conceit here is that the sea would be enclosed under a hard shell, probably of ice, thin enough that light could penetrate, but able to maintain a stable atmosphere within. The place was ‘engineered’ a long time ago by an advanced race, then used as a kind of ‘preserve’ for beings from various unknowable places. The inhabitants have no knowledge of space - they know only their own world with its single large, enclosed, sea.

    Probably Titan doesn’t realistically lend itself to this idea (why would anyone go to the trouble of enclosing it’s seas if the world is already relatively benign?) and I could easily place this on an imaginary titan-like moon.

    I know we have other moons with enclosed seas, but they are all world-seas, which I don’t want.
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    How about Ceres? There are recent stories that it may contain reservoirs of liquid water (or maybe not). It also has bright spots in some crater floors, which are ice deposits. Perhaps one of those could be an ice shell placed over an ocean, as you describe?

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    @Apocryphal said:
    Wow - lots to think about. What is the ‘air’ made of?

    "Titan's atmosphere is mostly nitrogen (about 95 percent) and methane (about 5 percent), with small amounts of other carbon-rich compounds. High in Titan’s atmosphere, methane and nitrogen molecules are split apart by the Sun's ultraviolet light and by high-energy particles accelerated in Saturn's magnetic field. The pieces of these molecules recombine to form a variety of organic chemicals (substances that contain carbon and hydrogen), and often include nitrogen, oxygen and other elements important to life on Earth."

    https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/moons/saturn-moons/titan/in-depth/

    Which also has a bunch of stuff about what has been deduced concerning internal structure.

    I like @NeilNjae 's idea about Ceres. This article https://earthsky.org/space/bright-areas-dwarf-planet-ceres-salty-water-below has a bunch of stuff discussing the subsurface composition of Ceres. Regarding atmosphere there. "Ceres has a very thin atmosphere, and there is evidence it contains water vapor. The vapor may be produced by ice volcanoes or by ice near the surface sublimating (transforming from solid to gas)". So once again, no shortage of water...

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    A lake in a crater on Ceres would be too small, I think (though of course, all the beings who inhabit the place could easily also be miniature).

    I’m attracted, too, to the idea of what a day on Titan might look like. A afternoon with an ochre glow (reflected light from Saturn) grows into a brighter and whiter evening as the moon begins to catch the actual sun, then cast into the shade of night as it passes through the shadow, and finally another bright ‘morning’ patch before settling again into the long, orange afternoon.
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